Successfully managing stress in your work as a veterinary surgeon

Posted on August 24, 2016 by Laura Brammar

Stress at work is inevitable for vets, whether in a small independent practice or at a large branch of a national provider. What isn’t inevitable though is the way we respond to that stress.

You are not alone

One of the most difficult aspects of coping with stress is the sense that you are the only one going through it at the time. Just as we begin to feel overwhelmed at work, it can seem that all of our colleagues and managers seem to be coping just fine.

In reality, the vast majority of professional vets experience some form of stress during their working day.

Having an opportunity to not only voice those challenges but also share them with fellow practitioners can be a really helpful first step in learning how to best tackle these issues. This was one of the benefits of attending the recent webinar I hosted targeted at members of the Young Vet Network. You can watch a recording of the webinar which includes questions and thoughts from the participants below.

Successfully managing stress webinar

What you will learn from the webinar

The first part of the webinar was an opportunity for BVA members to reflect on their causes of stress and how stress affects them and their work. Whether it’s the incessant pressure of on calls to the unrealistic pricing expectations of clients, the webinar was a safe space for members to share and support one another.

Beyond that we also explored how to recognise your ‘stress drivers’, the triggers that cause you to feel uncomfortable or overwhelmed at work. Once you are clearer on what you can or can’t control, you can also explore the extent to which you can influence and accept some of the realities of the workplace.

Dealing with difficult clients

I know from my extensive one-to-one careers coaching work with BVA members, that a significant cause of stress at work for vets is other people who we find difficult, be they managers, colleagues or clients. To this end we explored what makes that person difficult and how you can use tools to help you work with them more effectively.

For example, it can be really helpful to reframe the way you are thinking about that difficult person. That reframing starts with how you label them; think less of ‘difficult people’ and instead reflect on them as ‘people whose behaviour has an impact on me that I find difficult to cope with’. Rather than repeatedly ask yourself ‘why is this person difficult?’ instead pose the question ‘why am I having difficulty with this person?’. This helps you to identify which of your needs this person is challenging and provides you with a clearer roadmap on how to move things forward in a more positive light.

Work-life balance

Finally, the webinar addressed ways to more effectively manage your time but also address your wellbeing more comprehensively. We looked at strategies to maintain your work-life balance more effectively and crucially ended by identifying specific and tangible changes BVA members can make to improve the way they currently manage stress.

More on this topic

Laura Brammar

Written by Laura Brammar

Senior Careers Consultant with The Careers Group, University of London

With over 10 years' experience as a careers consultant, Laura runs one-to-one coaching, skills workshops and is responsible for managing The Careers Group Research Unit. In 2008 she completed MSc Organizational Behaviour at Birkbeck College, where her research explored the emotional display rules of work.